Wiels, Brussels, 2011 (photo Jef Jacobs)

Now in the Past

Ingrid Hölzl

Marie, Remi; Hölzl, Ingrid, ‘Softimage. Towards a New Theory of the Digital Image’, intellect: Bristol/Chicago, 2015

Vietnam, 1967, near Duc Pho, reconstruction after Hiromichi Mine (2001) reconstructs, or more exactly, recomposes a press photograph of an American airplane shot down by friendly fire, The Belgian artist travelled to the site of the accident and took a series of photos of the landscape. He then assembled these stills into a video animation, onto which he superimposed the still image of the exploding plane. [The result is an image whose temporality is hybrid, and whose cordiality is unclassifiable.

Vietnam is a single-channel video installation. silent and in colour; no information about its dimensions is provided on the gallery preview DVI), When exhibited, the video is projected so as to cover the wall from floor to ceiling, showing a lush landscape above which a military plane is displayed in a state of disintegration. There are subtle changes in light as if clouds were passing over the hills seen in the foreground of the landscape, whereas the background. remains perfectly still. The three-minute loop appears as a continuous take, the light effect simulating the common real-time experience of clouds passing, an experience whose non-narrativity yields the impression of an extended present where 'what occurred previously is essentially similar to what is occurring now' (Claerbout and Cooke 2002: 52).' A comparison between the two video stills reproduced here serves to highlight the quasi-static nature of the video though sampled from different moments in the piece, the two stills look strikingly similar (see Figures 3.1 a, b).

The full title of the installation, Vietnam. 1967, near Duc Pho, reconstruction after Hiromichi Mine, provides the viewer with a considerable amount of historical information: where, when and by whom the image, which the present work is meant to reconstruct, has been taken. Exploring the reference given in the title, we uncover Hiromichi Mine's identity as a Japanese press photographer who worked for United Press International during the Vietnam War. Mine took the photograph in 1967, one year before he died when an armoured personnel carrier he was in hit a landmine in central Vietnam. The photograph is included in a book titled Requiem (Faas and Page 1997), which celebrates the work of the 135 photographers who died or went missing in Indochina, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the period spanning 1950-1975. The caption of the double-spread runs as follows:

Ha Phan [ski, Vietnam, 1967. A U.S. Twin-engine transport Caribou crashes after being hit by American artillery near Duc Pho on August 3, 1967, U.S. artillery accidentally shot down the ammunition-laden plane, which crossed a firing zone while trying to land at the U.S. Special Forces camp. All three crewmen died in the crash. (Faas and Page 1997: 189)

Claerbout has established his reputation as an artist whose video installations, located at the crossroads between film and photography, question the specificities of the filmic- and the photographic image. In Vietnam, his aim in painstakingly digitally reconstructing this photograph as a digital video is not to reactualize the emotional impact of the original photograph (as the document of a traumatic event or as a testimony of the absurdity of war, and in particular the Vietnam war); instead, he uses the emotional charge of this iconic picture as a backdrop for an investigation into the complex temporality of the image in the digital environment. Incidentally, the work is part of a major retrospective catalogue of his work to date titled David Claerbout— The Time that Remains (Claerbout, 2012).2 In Vietnam, the artist uses Mine's image of the Vietnam war to stage another kind of conflict, namely that between the medium of photography and film, and its possible resolution in their coincidence as digital image.

David Green has noted that the issue in Vietnam is, 'not the conflation of photography and film but a conjuncture of the two mediums in which neither ever loses its specificity' (2004: 21). But, as Claerbout himself puts it in a conversation with Lynn Cooke, 'What should be done with the "solid looking" aspects of both film and photography in a computer-based environment? And, what becomes of the image as it is processed by one and the same electronic signal from its encoding to its output as a video- or data projection?' (Claerbout and Cooke 2002; 42). In the age of digital screenification, photography and film lose their well-defined place (and pace) and thus their perceptual and ontological solidity. Faced with a digital image projected or displayed directly on a screen, the question of its medium specificity (still or moving image) is obsolete. In a digital environment, stillness is no longer a medium-immanent quality, but rather an optional mode, The immobility of the still image on screen is only temporary; 'the image can be reanimated at any moment' (Laermans 2002: 15); it is a 'potentially moving image' (Hoelzl 2011: 2). Thus, rather than updating the critique of medium specificity prevalent in the critical writing on Claerbout with another layer of complexity, our stake here is to address the questions raised by this loss of medium specificity via a close analysis of his Vietnam piece, whose very subject is the general indefinability of the image in a digital environment.

During the first seconds, the projection seems to be a still photograph. It is only after some time that slight changes of light allow the viewer to scrutinize the image in order to grasp its status: If it is moving, it is a video, if not, it is a photograph. But the work resists - it does not yield an easy answer, and the medium uncertainty remains. Noel Carroll has stressed the fact that '(If) you know that what you are watching is a film, even a film of what appears to be a photograph, it is always justifiable to expect that the image might move' (1995: 73). The point here is that we do not know whether what we are watching is a film that appears to be a photograph or a photograph that appears to be a film. We do not know whether we should wait for movement to reveal the image to be a moving image or instead wait for stillness to reveal the image to be a still image. The changes of light that become perceptible after some time generate the sensation of time passing, but these changes are almost imperceptible and hallucinatory, constantly forcing the emergent moving image back into the state of almost stillness.

One might say that the stake of the video is the 'nothing to see, in the sense that, despite the filmic expectation of the viewer in front of a projected image, nothing moves: not a leaf or a cloud, and there is no sound. When the viewer finally resigns herself to the prospect that this tension between movement and stillness might remain unresolved, she may resort to a simple enjoyment of the landscape's silence, its interplay with the light and the ambivalent sensation of time passing. The continuous observation of a peaceful landscape, in which time passes but nothing much happens, generates a contemplative mood. In front of this postmodern vanitas, the viewer is invoked to meditate on time. Here, we will carry this perceptual (or pre-ceptual) meditation a step further. We will investigate the process of digital reconstruction and animation at play in this piece in order to address the shift from sign to signal fostered by digital screening, which results in the temporal shift of the photographic image from the reactualization of an impossible past to the reactualization of a possible present.

After Claerbout

Like Blast-off Animation, which we discussed in the previous chapter, Vietnam is heavily post-produced: Fragments of the Mine photograph are seamlessly merged with newly photographed imagery of the historical site in order to achieve a powerful composition. Comparing the Requiem version of the Mine photograph (see Figure 3.2) with a still of Claerbout's piece (see Figures 3,1 a, b), one notices several subtle differences: The hills in the foreground are different, but those in the background seem to be exactly the same (and in fact, by enlarging the still, the raster grid of the newsprint photograph becomes visible.). In. the foreground. The American artillery camp is replaced by a lush landscape. The military antenna on the left is replaced by a telegraph pole and electric wires. On the right edge of the image, a construction with a metal roof resembles that of the historical photograph, with the exception of a few details. The body of the plane is moved up and to the right, closer to the cut-off tail, whereas the debris is concentrated into a light zone of the sky above and to the right of the plane; in the Mine photograph, the sky is of a uniform grey colour.

In his conversation with Lynn Cooke, Claerbout explains that

In order to make Vietnam, 1967, near Duc Pho (2001), I went to the place where Hiromichi Mine had been, but I was not able to place myself in the same position I had to recompose the photograph somewhat. (Claerbout and Cooke 2002: 62)

In an email conversation we had with the artist in May 2010, he elaborated upon this point:

I did indeed travel to the same spot, but I couldn't locate the exact spot. Things just didn't look quite the same. After a few days I learned that this landscape had been dramatically changed by bombings (the hills) and by a layer of several meters to cover the old air strip when the Americans left so to make it no longer usable as a landing strip. The landscape was recorded with a consumer still camera, recording one image every two-and-a half to three seconds. As such, a changing of light can be noticed via the sequence of several hundreds of stills taken one after the other. Then, by simply crossfading the stills were animated. [ ...] Also, the sky was newly photographed. It is non-moving, so, a still.3

The video is therefore composed of several layers. The foreground is a video image fabricated by cross-fading a photo series taken by Claerbout somewhere around the historical site. A re-photographed sky, at the centre of which there is a lighter one is then superimposed over this background. The third layer consists of the hills in the background and the parts of the exploded airplane taken from a newspaper print of the Mine image. The body of the plane is repositioned right below the light zone of the re-photographed sky, as if the light zone emanated from it in the form of a white cloud.

In order to bring together the different elements of this moving image collage into a single coherent view, the changes of light of the photo-animation are digitally extended to the aircraft so that, when viewing the projection, the entire image seems to be invested with subtle changes of light, When viewing the video in fast forward, thereby violating its intended quasi-immobile temporality, the different layers of the collage become palpable, as well as the partial animation: The light effects focus on the hills in the foreground and on the plane, but does root affect the hills seen in the background and the rest of the sky.4

Claerbout’s complex digital recomposition questions the very possibility of what it announces to be, namely the reconstruction of a historical photograph famous for having captured a singular event: the explosion of a Caribou plane near Duc Pho on 3 August 1967. But how can we know for sure that this iconic picture is a single view of this singular event? Could it not be a collage, such as Frank Hurley's collages of the First World War, created with the aim of rendering them more truthful'?5 If we accept the assumption that a capture of a singular event has indeed occurred, the different versions of the photograph raise another question; What constitutes Ihe event here? The contact of the missile with the plane? Ihe explosion of the plane? Its anal crash? The event itself, one could say, has already taken place earlier; it is only its aftereffects that we see, the destroyed plane and the debris, suspended at separate points in space, before continuing their separate course down to earth.

The answer is that the 'decisive moment' is not only the simultaneous recognition and photographic organization of the visually perceived forms that express an event, as Henri Cartier-Bresson put it,6 but the simultaneous conception of an event and its formal expression. The camera does not capture We visual forms of an event, but instead creates the visual form of a photographic event, It depicts a moment that has never actually existed, and which has therefore never been perceived or recognized or photographed as such The photograph does not reveal the optical unconscious, but rather the photographic uncanny: It shows what does not exist prior to the photographic event, that is, the photograph, The photograph is uncanny not because it reanimates the past, but because it creates ghostly references. The image, then, cannot redeem physical reality, as Kracauer (1964) would have it, but seeks redemption through its claim of referentiality. 'the Causality (inclexicality) argument commonly invoked with photographs holds that the recording exists because of the recorded. Instead, the opposite seems to be the case; the recorded exists - or is believed to exist - because of the recording.

Reconstruction, Recomposition, Reactualisation

The version of Hiromichi Mine's photograph published in the Requiem book differs significantly from others we were able to locate online: One in the World Press Photo online archive,(2nd price in the category Spot News, 1967),7 and one in the online photo album of the C-7A-Caribou association of war veterans that served on this particular aircraft a`haunting photograph,8 which graced every Caribou briefing room's thus the dry caption.9 The World Press image, whose frame is almost square, centres on the American artillery camp; the plane appears in the top left corner. In the Requiem version, larger in frame, the plane is in the centre of the image with the horizon line dividing the image into two equal parts: the foreground with the camp and the sky with the plane, in the Caribou version, the frame is shifted to the right and the plane appears far left. Far right, large debris in the sky and below the portal of a church toped with a cross come into view (see Figure 3.3.),

Claerbout’s digital reconstruction (or rather, recomposition) is closest to the Requiem version of the Mine photograph, which means that the artist most probably used this version as the model for his reconstruction. But the considerable differences in terms of light, framing and internal composition raise questions of what exactly Claerbout reconstructed. The event of the Caribou crash, its photographic documentation, his own experience of the photograph or his search for the exact viewpoint from which Mine shot his famous photograph? Why should one want to reconstruct a perfect shot?

It seems that Claerbout instead used Mine's photograph to reconstruct the deceptive landscape he was confronted with, a landscape that hides its violent past under peaceful hills. As CIaerbout relates: the landscape had actually been reconstructed by the American soldiers when they left, covering the airstrip so as to make it no longer usable for the Vietnamese. Can Vietnam therefore be a reconstruction of the past by means of the present, or is it on the contrary a reconstruction of the present by the means of the past?

The caption 'After Hiromichi Mine' places Claerbout’s video animation in reference to Mines press photograph, and thus comments on the relation between original and remake. But taken literally, 'after Mine' indicates a relation of time. Thirty years after Mine, Claerbout, the Requiem print in his hand and the idea of its reconstruction in his mind, travelled to the historical site. The question of time is important: Claerbout’s pilgrimage to the very location of the crash reminds us of Tacita Dean's audio piece, Trying to Find the Spiral Jetty (1997), which pretends to document her attempted search for Robert Smithson's famous Land art piece, following the precise instructions that the artist left to locate the Spiral jetty. Just like the doubtful faithfulness of Claerbout’s Reconstruction after Hiromichi Mine is part of the piece, 'Trying to Find the Spiral Jetty’ instills a doubt regarding its own authenticity. As Michael Newman put it in 'Tacita Dean's Seven Books, Book Seven, 'How to know whether what we are listening to is the truthful recording of a search? This 'recording, could it be, partly or integrally, a fictional construction or a reconstruction based on audio effects?' (2001 21).

While in Trying to Find the Spiral Jetty, 'it appears that the enactment of the instructions is more important than the attainment of the goal' (Cruz 1999: 76), for Vietnam there were no such instructions except Mines photograph, In both cases, however, the goal, that is, the exact point of view, was out of reach for quite similar reasons. In the case of Dean, the Spiral Jetty was out of reach not because of the rise of the water level on the lake, but simply because the image which made the fame of the piece was shot from the sky (a position unattainable by Dean, who searched for it by walking on the ground).10 ln the case of Claerbout, the exact location of the image was out of reach because the landscape had in the meantime been changed by the Americans, so that the position from which Mine had shot his image no longer existed. Both Dean and Mine were looking for an impossible point of view.

But even if Dean had found the Spiral Jetty, and even if Claerbout had found the exact position from which Mine had taken his photograph, that is even if the geographical and visual difference had been reduced to zero, the temporal difference would always have weighed on the reconstruction. In both cases, the delay between the initial act (of making an earthwork, of making an image) and the act of its intended re-enactment is approximately 30 years. In this sense, what both pieces bring forth is what we could call an aesthetics of disillusion. They show (or give to hear) the impossible congruence of past and present; This disillusion is evidently also the disillusion of the photographic document - a disillusion that Claerbout’s piece overcomes at the same time in the confluence of present and past as digital image (as digitally screened video signal), generating what we propose to call a photographic now. (We will come back to that at the end of this chapter.)

Contrary to Dean, whose piece proves that she was unable to find the location of the Spiral Jetty at all, Claerbout claims that he found the location of the American base, but was unable to reconstruct the exact position from which Mine had taken his famous photograph. While Dean's piece is the audio story of her unaccomplished search, Claerbouts piece is the video story of his unaccomplished find, an unaccomplishment that constitutes in both cases the accomplishment of the work itself.

But Claerbout’s video story is primarily a video story about a still image, And we cannot help but yet again draw a parallel with Chris Marker's photo-novel, La Jetée, If in film and video moving images convey the illusion of movement, the use of still images to create a film or a video immediately introduces a medium-reflexive and ultimately time-reflexive element. While in La Jetée, the story itself (a time-travel story) is time-reflexive Vietnam is time-reflexive both in terms of content (the time difference between the historical and the present parts of the image, the passing of time while watching the piece) and concept (digitalization affording this coming together of present and past in one single image). Both works have a similar concern: not only to counter the filmic illusion of movement and temporality via the still image, but to question the linearity of time as such, its successive distribution into a past that no longer is a present that is now and a future that is not yet.

If La Jetée perfectly fits Liv Hausken's definition of the slide-motion film, ‘as a particular form of stasis within the field of moving images' (2011: 91), to describe Vietnam as a conjuncture of photography and film in which neither ever loses its specificity', as David Green has put it (ibid.), leaves aside the impact of digital image processing at play in both the production of Claerbout's video animation and its display. What intersects on the screen is not the photographic and the filmic images it is only their respective evocation in the form of the digital image, What the screen shows is an image that is already one step beyond medium specificity. Green interprets Vietnam as presenting, with the still photograph and the moving image, two conflicting modes of representation (ibid.). But Vietnam is already indifferent to this conflict. As a digital moving image collage, it pertains to the photographic now, which is characterized by the new modes of production and display induced by digital postproduction and screening, and by the new fluctuating temporality of the image fostered by digital image processing and display.

ln ‘The New Uses of photography' (2009.), Damien Sutton briefly interprets Vietnam as layering 'the trapped present over the trapped past of the photograph' (224). Viewed in this way, Vietnam seems to constitute a perfect 'image-trap' the contemporary version of the Vexierbild. By projecting the image of the present onto the image of the past, Vietnam seems to overcome the historical distance of the latter and to directly affect the viewer in stimulating a contrived recollection. But in effect, the contrary is the case, as the image of the past is projected onto the present for the latter to he intelligible, Vicenani is not a reconstruction of the past key means of the present, but rather a construction of the present by means of the past.

The photograph, writes Barthes, points to a past event as if it was about to occur now and makes us 'shudder, like Donald Winnicotes psychotic patient, over a catastrophe which has already occurred' (1981: 96, emphasis in the original).11 With digital post-production and screening, this psychotic affect induced by photographic technology and the structure of visual recognition and memory is infinitely delayed. When watching Vietnam, we are not shuddering over the explosion of the plane that has occurred some 45 years hack as if it was about to occur now, A new, radically present temporality of the photographic image emerges: the photographic now, We are no longer experiencing the conflicting temporality of an impossible past, but the continuous temporality of a possible present.

From Sign to Signal

Druta Veaceslav speaks of Claerbout's method, and more specifically of his Shadow Piece (2005), in terms of hybridization. (Shadow Piece is a black-and-white digital video projection showing a modernist building, through whose glass doors various people try to pass in vain, as only their immobilized shadows cross the invisible boundary between the still and the moving part of the image.) Technically, hybridization is produced by an effect of incrustation, whereby an image is superposed onto another. Following Veaceslav„ this term aptly describes what one sees, namely: The incrustation of a fluid material, video, into a solid material, photography. This impression is only on the screen. ln the computer, at the moment of their encounter, both photography and video are already transformed into code, flux, current' (2008, our translation ).12

Whereas the mind, holding on to a bygone difference of media - still vs. moving - is faced with a paradoxical image that is still and moving at the same time, the digital signal that carries the image is indifferent to this paradox as it indifferently processes both modalities, still and moving. In this sense, Claerbout's reactualization of Mines photograph in the form of a digital reconstruction is redundant (even if this redundancy, this insistence, is necessary for us to become conscious of this new temporality). The transformation of the photograph into a video signal and its screening could have made the point just as well, since what is reactualized with each new video frame is not the past, but the present (continuous) image. On screen, there is no still image and maybe no image at all: As Lev Manovich pointed out already two decades ago!13

It is only by habit that we still refer to what we see on the real-time screen as 'images' It is only because the scanning is fast enough and because, sometimes, the referent remains static, that we see what looks like a static image. Yet, such an image is no longer the norm, but the exception of a more general, new kind of representation for which We don't have a term yet (2001 (1995): 103}

With the concept of the photographic now, we have proposed a term for this new kind of representation that is no image, no sign, only the optical illusion caused by the display of a continuous signal.14 If the perspectival image was the first illusion, the first simulacrum, namely that of an open window to the world, the digital video signal in the age of digital postproduction is the carrier of a second level of illusion, namely: the illusion of an image;

An early version of this chapter, titled 'The Photographic Now David Claerbout’s Vietnam', has been published in Suzanne Paquet (ed.) Reproduire, special issue Intermédialités 17: 131-145 (September 2011), and reprinted on pp. 82-93 in David Claerbout (ed.) (2012), David Claerbout - The Time That Remains. Antwerp: Ludion.


I See Christine Ross' recent book, The Past is the Present, it's the Future, too: The Temporal Twit in Contemporary Art (2012), in which the art historian meticulously analyses the non-linear temporalities at play in contemporary art (film, video installation, sculpture, performance). Ross' video case studies are Harun Farocki and Stan Douglas. but not David Claerbout, whose work she finds 'somewhat too obvious' (oral communication, February 2011). Our dose reading of Claerbout's Vietnam piece aims to show that, quite to the contrary, Claerbout's media theoretical video art is an excellent starting point for rethinking the image way beyond the artist's own claims.

1 An early version of this chapter, titled Ilhe Photographic Now. David Claerbout's Vietnam', has been published in the journal Intermedialites in 2011 and is reprinted in this catalogue (Hoelzl 2012: 82-93).

3 The e-mail conversation took place between Friday, 14 May and Monday. 17 May 2010.

4 The 'fast forward display' is another instance of the new fluidity of photographic time generated by digital technology as a kind of response to the new malleability of filmic time generated by analogue video technology. Sec Doane (2006: 23-38).

5 See Wolfgang Briickle's analysis of Frank Hurley's staged First World War photographs (Bruckle 2011). With his photo-collages, combining different points of views and points in time, Hurley is actually quite close to Benjamin's notion of the 'constructive image' and to Moholy Nagy's notion of film as 'the logical culmination of photography, with the individual photographs becoming 'details of an assembly' (2002: 92-96), which we discussed in Chapter 2.

6 The Decisive Moment was in fact the English title of Henri Cartier-Bresson's 1952 photo-book, Images a la sauvette (images on the run'). Incidentally, the cover image did not feature any photograph, but a drawing by Henri Matisse. In his preface, Cartier-Bresson appropriated the term 'decisive moment' from a phrase attributed to the seventeenth-century Cardinal de Retz: 'II n'y a rien dans ce monde qui n’ait un moment décisif ('There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment'). For Cartier- Bresson, this resonates with the act of photographing, the decisive moment being the moment when the photographer simultaneously recognizes an event and rigorously organizes the visually perceived forms that express and signify this event. (Incidentally, the French original says 'fait' (fact) and not evenement (event), thereby also extending the decisive moment to non-temporal objects.) See Cartier-Bresson (1952: 1-14).

7 h ttp://www.archive.world press photo.orgisearchilayoures u I LA ndel ingidetailwpp/formi wppistar tilfq/ishoofdafbeeldingit r ue/trefwoordlyeari I 967/trefwoordiorganization_facet! United%20Pres.. s%20Internation.ai. Accessed March 2013.

8 http://www.c-7acaribou.comfalbuinorphotosiphoto02.htm, Accessed March 2011

9 The full description reads as follows; 'This haunting photograph, which graced every Caribou briefing room, was a grim reminder that the Viet Cong and the NVA were not the only problem for pilots in Vietnam. This incident occurred in August of 1967 when the

Caribou (tail number 62-4161) flew into the line of fire of a 155mni howitzer. This was early in the transition of the Caribou from the Army to the Air Force and highlighted the need for far better coordination amongst the services: http://www.c-7acaribou..cornialbumiphotosi photo02.htm. Accessed March 2013. This description sounds rather cynical in the face of a brutal war that the United Slates fought against North Vietnam and against the Vietcong, a South Vietnamese Communist guerrilla front directed by North Vietnam, which resulted in the killing of 1-3 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians and approximately 60,000 US soldiers, as well as in the face of the massive opposition against the US involvement in the Vietnam War, which led to the withdrawal of the United States from the war in 1973.

10 If we recognize a location from the airplane, it is because we have already seen it on a map. This highlights the incompatibility of the view from above with the view from the ground, a point on which we will elaborate on in Chapter 5, in which discuss the merging of the cartographic and photographic perspective in GSV.

11 This peculiar experience of the past as future is triggered by Barthes' acute chagrin after his mother's death. When going through her things, he finds a picture of his mother as a child, the famous winter garden photograph which stands at the core of the second part of Camera Lucida. In his Journal de deuil (2009), written while preparing the book, Barthes mentions: '13 juin 1978 Ce matin, à grande peine, reprenant les photos, bouleversé par une où mam. petite fille, douce, discrète à côté de Philippe Ringer (Jardin d'hiver de Chennevieres, 1898). Je pleure. Pas même envie de me suicider.’ (133) In an earlier entry, he notes: '10 mai 1978 Depuis plusieurs nuits, images - cauchemars ou je vois mam. Malade, frappée. Terreur. Je souffre de la peur de ce qui a eu lieu. Cf. Winnicott: peur d'un effondrement qui a eu lieu. (155)

12 French original: [incrustation d'un matériel fluide, La vidéo, dans un matériel solide,

la photographie. Cette impression est seulement à l'écran. Dans l’ordinateur, au moment de leur rencontre, la photographie et la vidéo sont déjà tous les deux transformées en code, flux, courant' (Veaceslav 2008).

13 In his short essay, 'An Archeology of a Computer Screen, published in Kunstforum International in 1995, Manovich traces the evolution of the screen from the classical screen of painting and photography to the dynamic screen of cinema to the interactive screen of the computer. The passage, retitled, 'A Screen's Genealogy'„ has been incorporated into his The Language of New Media (2001: 99-105),

14 In this sense, Vietnam is ironically historical, since press photography has contributed to the conversion of the photographic image from sign to signal through electronic image processing, transmission and display - instantaneous today, time consuming then; Horst Faas, then head of the Associated Press photo department in Saigon, relates how Nick Ues famous 1972 photograph of the naked and screaming Kim Phuc running down the road after a Napalm bombing reached the world; 'The photo was Li electrically transmitted, line by line, in 14 minutes, on a manually dialed radio-phone call „ I to the AP bureau in Tokyo. From there the signal was auto-relayed on AP controlled land and submarine wire communications circuits to New York and London, and from there to AP offices and newspapers around the world' (Faas and Fulton 2010).

David Claerbout ©2023